Jane Stuart – Writer

Writer on beer, football culture and Blackpool FC.

Coventry City v Blackpool

Back on the road this weekend to Cov. As we did the Football Tourist’s Guide To Coventry last season, it was just a day trip today on the BSA coach. But blimey what a brilliant day out it turned out to be.

Quick Recap

So I’ve had COVID. Hit me hard the day after I’d worked 14h straight to get the Sheffield blog published. Please read it since it almost killed me. Didn’t go to the Hull game. Didn’t even have the energy to get showered and dressed. Felt sick at just sitting up and trying to get out of bed. Watched at home on Tangerine TV. Wasn’t best pleased at paying a tenner for the privilege when I have a season ticket but there was no way I was going and I wanted to watch the game so que sera sera. Didn’t do a watchalong because Lee went to the match. It was shit. We move on. At least I wasn’t cold watching it. Here’s Lee’s vlog replaying the horrors of the night.

By the way, have you subbed to my fanzine yet? Here’s the link to a fabulous and informative and funny football magazine. You can get four issues delivered to your door for a bargain £15.

Big derby at home to Blackpool East End the following Saturday. Wasn’t really up to going but had no choice because BFC wouldn’t show it live on Tangerine TV despite it being a 1230KO grr.

Perked up gradually during the match, culminating in laughing very long and very hard at our fourth goal. Here’s the link to Lee’s match vlog. Watch it – it’s ace.

One thing I always take away from being ill is that it’s my body telling me to have a bloody rest woman. I know I push myself too hard sometimes and I know I’m only little and my little body can’t take it. So I’m back in full on fuck it mode and, yeah, that Preston match warrants a full blog but fuck it. You can have three photographs and like it.

Not only did they have Terry Butcher at the back, but he was paired with Danny Shittu. No wonder they aren’t conceding many.

Credit where credit’s due. Decent keeper kit.

Static and silent away following. Teehee.

Southbound to Coventry

Right let’s get back to it, shall we? It was raining when we left the house, armed with a cool bag full of healthy snackage. I’d managed to (a) reach my target weight through complete lack of appetite thanks to COVID; and (b) put it all back on again through not having the energy or inclination to prepare food, hence raiding the Naughty Cupboard. Not that I can taste much right now but just to restore my energy levels, you understand. But today I was drawing the line and getting back on the SlimmingWorld plan. I’d have drawn it the day before but, you know, Fleetwood Beer Festival and all that. It was a good fest and also probably deserves the full blog treatment but give me a break I’ve not been well and need to ease back into this. The particular highlight was that every beer on the list had the numbers 0-5 printed directly underneath, making it easy to score as you drink. I stuck to my trusty smiley face method though.

This was the only beer I could really taste, so I had two of those.

Anyway, back to the coach to Cov. Lee won the £15 travel voucher (which would be put to use for the Cardiff game) and this was a belting start to the day. I have taken to reading a lot because it’s less exhausting than writing. On the journey down, I completed Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan (mercifully short, very French) and read a couple of short stories from The Jealousy Man by Jo Nesbo (recommended). And, before I knew it, I looked up and we had arrived in Nuneaton.

Cool fountain on roundabout.

BSA always choose a Wetherspoons as a pre-match pub but I’m boycotting, although this doesn’t extend to their toilets, which I still pop in and use at no cost to myself and no coins in their coffers. I’m not reviewing them, though. We then had a mooch round the pedestrianised town centre while killing time waiting for a reviewable pub to open at noon. I found a penny and picked it up, hoping all day long I’d have good luck. There was a hat stall in the market but I couldn’t find a suitable fleece-lined, thick woolly lucky hat to see me through the winter. There was an excellent cake shop which we gazed through the window of without going in to avoid the risk of temptation. Right. Now it was pub o’clock.

Lord Hop

I had thoroughly researched Nuneaton pubs on the CAMRA GBG app and this one came out on top because:

  • award-winning
  • micropub
  • bring your own food
  • sofas
  • board games

Oh and because their online beer board included this:

Er, yes please! They also had these ones on today:

Ooh this one’s from one of my old local breweries (I’d been to their opening back in 2019 – blog here). One of these as well please!

Ooh and what’s this? Exciting snackage alert!

On the way down I’d snacked on melon/mango/pineapple fingers, ham and cherry tomatoes. But I couldn’t resist a pickled egg. I ended up buying more than I could carry and enlisted Lee’s help to transport my two halves and pickled egg upstairs.

Yes this pub has an upstairs. It was already getting busy downstairs, despite having just opened its doors, so it was just as well. There was no-one upstairs so we had our choice of seating. I headed straight for the sofas and plonked myself down in a surprisingly low armchair. I was very excited to see a good choice of board games on the bookshelves.

We selected one to (a) keep Lee entertained, which is an important requirement when I’m with this non-drinker with ADHD in a pub; and (b) keep my hands and mind occupied to stop me drinking too quickly (two halves was within my daily syn allowance, but more would have taken me over).

This game was great fun – if slightly and unnecessarily complicated by being effectively four games in one. But you basically won if you managed to match the most cards in the Pelmanism game (I won). But, in order to get to that part, you had to correctly identify three rhyming pairs from the cards within 30 seconds. And there was a die involved to select which set of cards the rhyme would come from. Anyway I won when we played it properly, but then we just proceeded to quiz each other on the rhymes from the cards, which was the most fun part, as we had to describe the likes of ‘Vin Diesel petting a weasel’ without using the words in the given rhyme (‘action actor I think, don’t know what he’s been in but his surname is the alternative to petrol, and he’s fussing an animal that’s a bit like a stoat.’)

A couple sat at the adjacent table and seemed to be completely oblivious to our antics but it turned out they’d been listening all along and the man had been texting his daughter telling her to make sure she got the game in for Christmas. We somehow got onto the subject of Fleetwood and I’d said I’d been there last night and noticed for the first time that there was a Museum of Fleetwood. The man replied ‘well that must be quite small’ and I confirmed that it was.

We could have happily stayed in this excellent pub all afternoon but it was now time to head back to the bus to take us to Cov.

Coventry City v Blackpool

Ooh are we here already? I’d barely had time to eat my cheese and tomatoes.

This was possibly the last game Cov would play here at the Ricoh or whatever it’s called these days. Their landlords, Wasps, have entered administration, leaving Cov having to find another ground to host their home match this coming Tuesday. What a bloody mess once again – after all the trouble Cov have had in recent years, having to play at Northampton and Birmingham and having to relay the pitch which had been unplayable at the start of this season (it was looking lush today).

There were five turnstiles open (take note, Sheffield United) and they appeared to be segregated into male and female, allowing for a bag search (table provided) and frisk by an appropriately-gendered steward before entering. That went very smoothly and I headed straight through the turnstile, across the spacious concourse and into the Ladies to get myself comfortable for the 90 minutes ahead. Oh and do my customary Loo Review.

This is me swinging my legs whilst seated on the loo. Why is the toilet set so high? Also, do you like my shocking pink Skechers?

Evidence here of a previous (perhaps shit) hand drier being replaced with a new (actually effective) hand drier. Hurray. It really is a decent stadium, this. Such a shame Cov STILL aren’t being allowed to properly utilise it when they are so clearly in need of it.

Next I joined the queue for the refreshment kiosk. I think it was £2.60 or £2.70 for a bottle of water, which was scandalous.

I located some great seats directly over the steps with no risk of visual obstruction from standing fans. Some pals came over for chats or to sit with us and that was lovely. This was like the old (League One/Two) days when there weren’t so many in the away end and you could easily spot and sit with your pals. It was great to spend the match with Houstie, who did a great job keeping us up to speed with the scores from around the country.

Their keeper in short sleeves and Sky Blue boots.

Blackpool were quick out of the blocks as they so often are but failed to capitalise as they so often have. Gary ‘Goal Machine’ Goals Madine could have had a hat-trick early doors but at least it was encouraging that he was getting in the right positions even if he wasn’t putting the ball away. Somehow we went in at the break 1-0 down but I wasn’t having any of that.

‘We’ve obviously got goals in us. We’re going to win this.’

Houstie took me at my word and had a flutter on a Blackpool win. No pressure there, then.

It was weirdly warm today – with waves of intense heat – and we’d all taken our coats off. 19C on 29th October? What’s all that about?

As predicted, Blackpool came back in the second half, with goals from Madine (finally!) and Yates (obviously). That now puts Yates as outright top scorer in the Championship. It’s so joyful seeing him oozing confidence now he’s finally (a) in the team regularly and (b) actually getting the ball, now we have a manager who favours playing it forwards. He even seems more mature and professional in his interviews now. It’s lovely to see him blossoming and developing. What’s not to love about Jerry Yates?

It’s also lovely to see a bit more experience in this team, which we seem to be really benefiting from (e.g. Maxwell and Husband).

So we came out beaming with a 2-1 win. Houstie had stuck £15 on at half time at 7-1 (and 1-0 down) for a Blackpool win so he was extra pleased – and said he owed me a pint. Here’s Lee’s match vlog.

What an utterly joyful day out this had been. Back on the coach, after a bit of happy football chat and checking the results (ooh West Brom have gone bottom) I settled back with my Kindle. I started A Certain Smile by Francoise Sagan (being the second half of the book with the story in that I’d finished on the way down) and read another Nesbo short story, which somehow put me in mind of Dean Koontz. Now that was an author I hadn’t read for many years. I’d loved his later novels and had returned to his earlier works so I could read his full back catalogue in order (otherwise I might get confused which ones I’d read and which I hadn’t); however I hadn’t enjoyed the earlier works, so I stopped reading him altogether – which of course made no sense. I located one of his recent works (The Other Emily), began reading that – and was immediately absorbed. I broke only to tuck into more ham, tomatoes and Mint HiFi bars to satisfy my hunger.

And then very quickly – at 2000 – we found ourselves back in Blackpool. Well that was nicely early enough for me to get a curry on (Chicken Rogan Josh) and catch up with Corrie and Twitter before heading to bed fully content after a wonderful day out. That was three Saturdays on the bounce now that I’d enjoyed my football. I can probably count on one hand how many times THAT’s happened over the last 30 years. Big up Michael Appleton’s Tangerine Army. I already can’t wait for the next match. UTMP.

Next Up: WBA v Blackpool.

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